Places to paddle.

-- Last Updated: Apr-22-08 1:02 AM EST --

I'm looking for what this site is about 'places to paddle'. But I have very specific criteria. And I am hoping some of you may be able to make a few suggestions.

The criteria:
1. Preferably nothing worse than class 1 rapids.

This is part of a rehabilitative program. Many of the men in the groups have never been in a canoe.

2. There need to be places where a group can make camp in isolation.
3. Minimal population, minimal traffic.

On a trip like this if you can avoid contact with the public then all that you will have with you is whatever you brought with you. And if you have left behind whatever has been negatively controlling your life then it will not be with you.

4. The length of the trail that fits all the other criteria should be at least 25 miles.

5. Can't be in Tennessee.
We will be coming from Tennessee, and though in reality it does not matter where the river is, psychologically it makes a difference.


For those that provided useful input, thanks. For those that just wanted to argue, continue if you want. I'm finished with this thread now. If anyone has any other rivers to suggest just email it.


– Last Updated: Apr-21-08 8:35 AM EST –

Sorry, but this almost reads like a troll. But in case it's just that you aren't thinking about some of the details:
What state(s)? Anything from California to Maine to Texas or is there an area of the country you want to stay in?
Exactly how/when does the 25 mile trail come into play? It sounds like you are talking about carrying the canoes in 25 miles before getting to the paddle part.
What would the problems be if you did encounter other hikers/campers? Isolation can be a liberating thing, but it's a lot easier on park rangers etc if groups stay within a range that they'd be fairly reachable to get to in case of emergency.
And the biggest one for me - if a bunch of guys with no time in canoes and unstated swimming ability into moving water, what kind of support would you have with you?

Upper Missouri River in Montana
Bring lots of bug spray and your own shade.

Do a search; you’ll get a ton of information on it.


assuming you are not a troll
or some wannabe social worker with a half baked scheme to drown your clients my advice is to hire a guide service in the area you want to paddle in, tell them your criteria and then follow their lead. You don’t sound like you have sufficient expertise to lead a group of non paddlers on an overnight expedition. A second alternative would be to contract with an Outwardbound or NOLS school and have them craft a real wilderness experience for these young men.

Not a troll.
No not a troll. Sorry if it reads that way. What I wrote is just direct and to the point.

The 25 miles is must the minimal stretch of river that I need that will be mostly calm, and unpopulated.

As for encountering others and possible problems, I don’t know. What will those others have with them? Alcohol, drugs, media that influences in a negative way, you don’t know so best to avoid the public.

As for support there are at least 4 staff on each trip.

But what is the greater risk, getting hurt on a river or destruction from alcohol, drugs, and other problems. This helps them get away from it.

I appreciate the suggestion. I will check it out.

"Many men"–all with addiction or other issues and possibly none with paddling experience, plus 4 staff, who may have experience but who are travelling on a water trail they don’t know? Not a good formula for success.

Social worker?
I didn’t know Outward Bound still existed.

But I didn’t ask for advice. I asked for suggestions of places to canoe that met my requirements.

You don’t have enough information concerning the situation to make any determinations that would allow you to formulate any advice.

So hire a guide. A guide is not needed, but let’s look at that idea.

Who is this guide, does he have problems with alcohol, or drugs, or maybe just using women (which leads to situations that account for a lot of parole violations), is he mature enough to use clean language? Or maybe when he finds out that the men he will be leading just got early release and have just been released will he be scared. Will he be foolish enough to bring a gun against my rules? Or will he have an attitude that causes problems?

I’m just looking for some alternatives routes.

And no, I’m not a social worker.

Milder day trip to start

– Last Updated: Apr-21-08 2:28 PM EST –

If it's already working then why can't you talk about the places that is happening? It'd make it a lot easier to suggest other sites.

But I'm not convinced, still don't get the away from everyone part. Your major exposure would be to day hikers, families and people with expensive hiking shoes and a financially damaging affection for GoreTex, not street gangs.

Your comment about the potential guide is seriously off base. You obviously don't know much of anything about what a good outdoor guide goes thru to get their certifications, or you'd know how whacked that was. I'm still not convinced that you really have any sense of the physical environment that you are asking about.

You also are simply not thinking well about the water safety part. If you must put non-paddlers and likely questilnable swimmers into canoes, do it at a state park in warm water they can stand up in.

If you were experienced putting togather wilderness trips, you wouldn’t need to come here to ask the questions you asked. And because you are inexperienced, what you are planning without getting expert guidence is foolish—the guide doesnt need to be an expert on addiction or violence towards women etc—I’m assuming you will be there and can supply that expertise if you have it. And the guide doesn’t really need to take part in any off the river discussions once the campsite is set up–he doesn’t even need to be there—

But what you are suggesting is to put a group of dysfunctional men, inexperienced in a wilderness setting on a relativly long—at least one night maybe more–trip in the wilderness----without having somebody with river and woods smarts along it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

I would have told you if you had asked.
The Santa Fe and Suwannee. No one asked.

And with all due respect, you have no understanding of the people involved.

It is not like taking a group of girl scouts out.

Girl scouts haven’t been locked up for a few years. They don’t have to adjust to being out in public. That is one problem that you are not seeing.

And you are not taking seriously the problems that other things can cause.

And no, what I said about the guide is not offbase. The point is I don’t know what any particular guide will be like. And you don’t either. Granted I wrote the worst case scenario, but the best case scenario wouldn’t be a problem. It would be just another variable in the equation.

And yes, I do take water safety seriously. What are the risks compared to what these men are already facing? You don’t understand.

I didn’t come here to debate. I don’t have time for it. I came here looking for a few alternatives.

West Branch
Penosbsot River between Lobster Lake and the foot of Chesuncook Lake in Maine

Caveats are that the group can be no more than 12 in size. Some campsites have two cells (and that is not a pun that is what they are called) and can hold 24.

45 miles…no portages Rapids class 1 but only for a short stretch…mostly just moving water.

Its open to the public but minimal traffic.

Algonquin PP in Ontario is another favorite for lake to lake paddling involving portaging… However I have seen only teen groups of “at risk behavior individuals” there. There is a good deal of walking on portages usually…

I asked one question. It is not easy to find sections of rivers that are suitable for this.

David Collins would tell you the same thing. And he is who taught me.

But you think that anyone should know plenty of places that fit the criteria?

Well, to match you up against David Collins. He was in the special forces in Vietnam. After leaving the Military he served as a military advisor. And then he started a christian school of martial arts. And he is still on call for search and rescue. And that is just a few highlights.

He has been canoeing the rivers in the U.S. and other places since most likely before you were out of diapers.

He doesn’t know a lot of places that are suitable for this. But I am glad to know that the answers are obvious to you. So where’s the list?

You should start reading
As in the first reply you got (from me) above:

“What state(s)? Anything from California to Maine to Texas or is there an area of the country you want to stay in?”

It took at least two tries before you paid attention.

It appears that your current take on river safety is that since these guys have all survived dreadful risks in their life to date from crime, being in jail, addiction etc, that it’s no big deal if they risk drowning. If you really want someone to agree with that, you should be on other than a reasonably solid paddling site.

I appreciate it.
I’ll check it out. If a site has 2 cells it might be possible to rent both cells.

Anywhere in the U.S.
Anywhere in the U.S. But most practical would be not more than 1600 miles away. Trips further away could be done. Just wouldn’t be repeated very often.

As for safety. No, I think I already said that I take water safety seriously. But if I haven’t I’m saying it now. Concerning that, you do what you can to minimize the danger. That is in selecting a proper place, having good gear (including life jackets), giving careful instruction, taking it slow, first aid certifications, etc. You do your best.

What you are not understanding is that the dangers that are not against them (not were against them, but are against them) are greater than what the river represents. And on the river they can escape many of those dangers.

They see it. They don’t want to leave the river. And they want to know when they can go again.

But if you want to understand you are going to have to get to know some of them. I would suggest finding yourself a penpal.

Google is your friend
Just for example, I Googled “canoe trail Kentucky” and came up with Land Between the Lakes Paddle Route among others.

If you don’t like Kentucky, try another state.

Group dynamics

– Last Updated: Apr-21-08 5:22 PM EST –

Lessee -
Kt's pulling teeth to get info
You come to a site that is heavily populated by people who earn their living guiding or coaching, or who are friends with coaches and guides, and throw around some pretty wild accusations about problems that guides would present
You throw up the name of some guy who you regard as tough to someone who has considerably more experience guiding than I suspect you do
And all of this starts out with an original post that is so impatiently written that it's hard to tell if it's real or a troll

And if I have this right, you would be one of the people responsible for managing this group of very troubled men...

Check into

– Last Updated: Apr-21-08 5:35 PM EST –

Village Creek in east Texas. Lower section can be crowded on weekends, but the upper sections are more isolated and whole stretch is fairly empty on weekdays. Much of this runs through the Big Thicket National Preserve and Nature Conservancy property. Camping is on sandbars along the creek. You could check with Eastex Canoe Trails at

to see if it meets your needs.

The section of the Sabine River (Texas-La border) below Toledo Bend Lake might also fit your criteria. There is a big Labor Day trip every year on that section with overnight camping on sand bars.

Some info at

Hope this helps.


I appreciate it.
And like the others I will check it out.